Many athletes in the 2016 Rio Olympics have been seen with red circular marks on their bodies left from cupping treatments, specifically team USA. The olympians say they are using the treatment to ease aches and pains, and to aide with recovery from the physical toil of constant training and competing. US gymnast Alex Naddour stated that cupping was “better than any money I’ve spent on anything else… [cupping] has been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy,” also adding that it had saved him from “a lot of pain”.
Although cupping isn’t necessarily a new treatment, the amount of media exposure recently is peaking everyone’s interest and sparking curiosity. So how does it work? A pump is attached to the top of the cup and vacuum is created by pumping the air out of the cup. The cup serves as a suction mechanism that draws blood to the surface of an area that is sore. Once the proper amount of time has elapsed, the cup is gently eased away from the skin by first opening the valve to release the vacuum. In many cases, the skin can show a darkened appearance where the suction is applied. This darkening clears up in a few days. Here at Jennifer Klein Physical Therapy, cupping is sometimes often done along with systemic dry needling depending on the patient’s needs.